Marc Juris loves television. The TruTV executive VP and general manager has three DVRs at home, where he records everything from Deadliest Catch to CSI. And his love of the medium is perhaps most evident in the programs he has developed at the network, which rebranded nearly two years ago.
“He has a very strong passion as a viewer advocate, and his advocacy is pushed through everything they put on the air,” says Steve Koonin, president of Turner Entertainment Networks.
As someone who has helped transform the way a number of networks operate, Juris knows a great deal about the business side of television as well. He was there when AMC transformed into an ad-supported network, and transitioned MuchMusic USA into Fuse. And in 2008, he shepherded CourtTV into its new incarnation, the primetime/daytime combo of TruTV/In Session.
But his first-ever job was a familiar one to many in the television world: as a page, working for CBS in New York. Juris then worked in the network's news production department. Stints at CBS Cable and King World followed, giving him hands-on experience with the worlds of cable and syndication.
Opportunity knocked when Rainbow Media, Cablevision's programming arm, approached him in 1996 about a senior VP position at Metro Channels, the company's local programming effort. His time there also gave him a perspective on the business he had not seen before, working for both a programmer and a cable provider. “You could see both points of view very clearly,” Juris recalls.
From Metro Channels, Juris moved across Rainbow to AMC, where he helped oversee its move from an ad-free format emphasizing classic films, to a focus on originals. After AMC, Juris was tasked with an even bigger challenge: turning Canadian import MuchMusic into a new channel that could take on MTV in the music space.
“I thought that was the most utterly impossible challenge there could be,” he says. “But I like utterly impossible challenges.”
The end result was Fuse, which served up programming with an attitude that fit the younger demos it was hoping to attract. “They let me do what I wanted, to be bratty and speak to that audience,” he says.
His string of success at Rainbow Media did not go unnoticed. “I would call him chronically creative,” says Rainbow Media President/CEO Joshua Sapan. “Marc has that rare combination of good business sense and unusual creativity, synthesized and operating at the same time.”
It was that combination that caught the eye of Court TV, which Juris joined in 2004 as general manager. In 2006, Turner bought Liberty Media's stake in Court, taking control of the network. Soon thereafter, Turner changed the channel's focus, keeping its daytime lineup—and its loyal following—but revamping primetime to focus on real people and stories, in an effort to attract a younger demographic.
“We had an audience that loved [real-life programs], and we thought we could broaden it,” Juris says.
On Jan. 1, 2008, Court TV became TruTV/In Session. Juris has developed programs such as Ocean Force, about lifeguards in Los Angeles, and Rehab, set at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas.
Since its relaunch, TruTV has seen its viewers' average age dip from 52 to 46, which Juris credits to the compelling characters and stories seen on its shows.
Juris' passion for storytelling is also at work beyond the television set. The avid art collector is a regular at galleries in SoHo and Chelsea. “I find it so inspiring to see how artists communicate with the world,” he says.
Storytelling is also top of Juris' mind as he talks about where the network is going. He wants to capitalize on advances in technology, and feature more footage captured by ordinary people.
“A great story doesn't need all those bells and whistles,” he points out. “Everyone is now a storyteller.”